How to stay motivated despite setbacks

How does one stay motivated when everything seems to be winding down, stagnating … plans aren’t working out, people are turning away, excitement is waning ???

We’ve been struggling with this very question of late. When things start to go awry, doubt inevitably starts to creep in and before you know it you’re questioning your motives, God’s plan, everything …

Giving in to doubt is sooo easy, too easy. But who ever said following Jesus would be easy. So we return to the Word for motivation, to restore our hope. And we look to Jesus and to who He says He is. His promises keep us strong and help us stay the course.

There is an amazing description of Jesus in the first chapter of Revelation, yes Revelation.

In verse 11, Jesus describes Himself as the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last. Here He confirms for us that He is always with us, from before we were born until after we die, He will always be there. For some of us who have not yet entered into a relationship with Him, just because we don’t acknowledge or even know Him doesn’t make Him any less real. The truth is the truth, whether we choose to believe it or not, and not believing in Jesus’ presence doesn’t make His presence any less real and true.

In verse 17, Jesus tells John ‘Do not be afraid …’ as He tells us so many times in scripture. Take Isaiah 41:10, ‘Fear not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Jesus is described as the ‘… Son of Man, clothed with a garment down to the feet and girded about the chest with a golden band.’ This description in verse 13 speaks to the priestly attire of the Old Testament and therein says that Jesus is our high priest. The high priest makes the sacrifice, but in Jesus’ case, He is the sacrifice come to save you and I and set us free from sin and death. There is no more condemnation because of His sacrifice. What amazing hope that statement brings.

Verse 14 goes on to say that ‘… His head and hair were white like wool…’ We speak of grey-hair wisdom, the wisdom of age, but Jesus holds the wisdom of the ages, heavenly wisdom, that He shares freely with us if we just ask as we’re told to in the book of James. Jesus will give us the wisdom we need to make the right decisions if we just ask and believe, i.e. ask in faith. Therein lies the problem many times. When we ask, we don’t ask in faith, and when our decisions turn out to be the wrong ones, we blame God. Don’t play the blame game, play the faith game. And don’t worry, even if we make a bad choice God will not condemn us. There is no more condemnation, just freedom in forgiveness and faith.

‘… His eyes like a flame of fire.’ ends verse 14, telling us that Jesus can see right through us. We often say, ‘his/her eyes were burning a hole right through me’ when we refer to someone staring at us intently. Jesus stares at us so intently that He can see right through us, into the deepest reaches of our soul. He sees those bits we best keep hidden from others, even those bits of us we’re ashamed of. Yet, despite all our faults, He still loves us. He yearns to have a relationship with us. Through His sacrifice He has made us totally acceptable. We can come as we are, and He’ll never reject us. People can reject us, let us down, put us down… but never Jesus, he accepts, builds up, makes good.

‘His feet were like fine brass, refined in a furnace…’ Verse 15 begins with an image of strength, an image of standing firm even in the face of trials, temptations, suffering and setbacks. If we stand with Jesus, we stand with His strength. With Jesus on our side we will be able to stand against any evil the world can throw at us. We will stand firm and tall. We will stand with joy in our trials, as James tells us, because Jesus is working it all out for good, for blessings in the end. Our hope remains firm in Jesus, the one who saves.

Verse 15 ends with, ‘… His voice the sound of many waters.’ Though there are many voices crowding in on us in our busy lives (everyone has their two cents worth), His voice is louder than them all. Jesus can drown out the voices of evil speaking bad things over us. He speaks only good, and He speaks loud!

‘… out of His mouth went a sharp two-edged sword…’ Verse 16 recalls the image of the Word of God as a two-edged sword. Jesus is the Word make flesh, and so the Word comes from Him to destroy evil and begin to do surgery on our hearts. His Word cuts away the old sinful nature while growing us in His character, the fruits of the Spirit. We become more loving, joyful, good, kind, faithful, peaceful, patient, humble and self-controlled. The trials and upsets we face are just growing us in these fruits. Jesus is working for good in our lives. We must never forget that or allow the evil one to trick us into believing the lies he spreads about us.

Verse 16 ends with ‘… His countenance was like the sun shining in its strength.’ The description of Jesus ends with an image of light, eternal light. Jesus is the light of the world. We must always look to the light, move towards the light, for in the light is our salvation.

So how do we stay motivated, keep the hope alive? We keep our eyes on Jesus. He is the First and the Last. He is our saviour, our protector. We need not fear anything in this world. He is our high priest. He is the sacrificial lamb that died to set us free. He gives freely of His wisdom if we only have faith. He makes us totally acceptable. He gives us strength and speaks His goodness and blessings over us. He leads us, guides us, forms and shapes us into who He meant us to be. He leads us in the paths of righteousness as Psalm 23 tells us, and He lights up our world.

How can we not be energized and filled with hope and motivation with a God like ours?